An Unbreakable Bond

This is Carl and Mark’s story

Carl is a 75-year-old man living with COPD and receiving care from MJHS Hospice in his Manhattan apartment. Carl is originally from Pennsylvania and worked in the book and media industries until he retired at 71. He has a long history of fighting for LGBT rights, having been very active in the gay liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s, including taking part in the Stonewall uprising 50 years ago.

Carl met his partner Mark 40 years ago. A couple years after they met, they lost contact, until 28 years later when Carl reached out to Mark. Mark was a highly successful artist who had fallen on hard times during the recession and was working as a janitor to make ends meet. Carl and Mark reconnected and found they still felt a strong bond after so many years apart.

For nearly 10 years now, Carl and Mark have lived together with their two cats. Sadly, both are largely estranged from their families because they are gay. Having faced a lifetime of discrimination, Carl and Mark are grateful for the nonjudgmental support from the MJHS hospice team, who accept them for who they are. According to Mark, “MJHS validates everything we feel.”

With the encouragement of Carl’s MJHS hospice care team, and with an MJHS social worker officiating, Carl and Mark were married earlier this month in their home – a dream come true for the couple, and one which they never thought would be possible within their lifetimes. The marriage has helped sustain Carl as he approaches end-of-life.

“We’ve avoided official marriage for multiple reasons. With the remarkable, sensitive support and extensive knowledge of the hospice team, we are now officially married. My goal is for love to extend Carl’s life. We are providing a stable home for each other that neither of us ever genuinely imagined could happen. We share a public statement that, within both our lifetimes, seemed impossible for same sex couples… We are a family of choice, caring for each other in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.” – Mark

MJHS is proud to provide sensitive care to LGBT patients, working to set industry standards and best practices when caring for this community. Implementation of LGBT cultural competency training has earned MJHS a platinum rating from SAGE Care.

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“Every single day I thank MJHS doctors, nurses, social workers, as well as the chaplain and music therapist for their compassion, care and being our life saver.”

— Carmen Abruzzo